Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a medical
treatment in which the entire body is placed under increased
atmospheric pressure and the patient breathes 100% oxygen. This
treatment is administered in a pressurized chamber which causes a
10-fold increase in plasma oxygen concentration with a resulting
increase in oxygenation of the cells, organs and tissue of the body.
Hyperoxygenation allows tissues throughout the
body, especially those tissues are in need of healing, heal faster
and better. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is used to treat a diverse
group of conditions. It may be the primary treatment for some
conditions, or it may be used as part of a combined program
involving antibiotics, other therapies and/or surgery.
The concept hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT)
is simple. The air that we breathe contains 21% oxygen. Breathing
100% oxygen while an individual is at normal barometric pressure has
limited benefits. However, by breathing pure oxygen in an increased
pressure environment, we are able to deliver 3-4 times the amount of
oxygen to those tissues with good blood circulation and as much as
100 times more to tissues with poor circulation (such as brain
tissue damaged by stroke or head injury). This hyperbaric (above
normal pressure) delivery of oxygen offers many unique therapeutic
benefits that cannot be achieved by any other method.
In order to provide individuals with HBOT, a
pressurized environment is required. The patient is placed within a
spacious chamber, which is then pressurized to the level ordered by
their physician. Each treatment takes approximately one hour and is
closely supervised by our highly trained and experienced Hyperbaric
What Conditions Are Effectively Treated With
There are more than one hundred and ninety
conditions that are effectively treated with HBOT. We have seen
remarkable results in patients with the following health concerns:
- Stroke and complications of stroke
- Head and spinal cord injuries
- Crush injuries
- Multiple sclerosis
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Burns and complications of burns
- Blood poisoning
- Acute rheumatoid arthritis
- Carbon monoxide poisoning
- Lyme's disease
- Macular degeneration
- Brown-recluse spider bites
- Silicone implant rejection
- Slow-healing wounds (noninfectious)
- Recovery from plastic surgery and skin
- Poor circulation and vascular problems
(often eliminating the need for amputation)
- Diabetic wounds and peripheral vascular
- Wound and skin infections including flesh
eating bacterial infections and gangrene
- Radiation necrosis and radiation cystitis
and intestinal problems
- ...... And many other health concerns
What Are The Benefits Of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy?
All of the benefits provided by this therapy
are the result of this extra oxygen being carried within the
bloodstream and diffusing into the tissues and fluids of the body.
Under the increased oxygen pressure of HBOT, sufficient oxygen can
be dissolved in plasma to meet all tissue oxygen requirements. This
effect allows oxygen to be delivered to tissues where red blood
cells can't reach and maintains tissue viability in compromised
HBOT provides many health benefits including:
- Increased oxygen delivery to
- Stimulation of the formation of new blood
vessels and neuro-pathways
- Reduced fatigue from chronic conditions.
- Immune system stimulation and modulation.
- Healing of damaged tissues.
- Direct anti-microbial action.
- Reduction of effects from toxic
substances and radiation.
Some patients experience benefits with only one or two treatments.
However, it may be necessary to undergo 30 or more treatments for
significant and long-lasting benefits to occur. The two major
criteria that affect the success of HBOT are the type and severity
of your condition, and the length of time you have had it.
Since these vary greatly from person to
person, it is difficult to be more specific without being completely
familiar with your case. Our physician and technical staff will
develop an initial treatment plan based on your specific needs and
modify this plan as your treatment progresses. Your initial
treatment plan will be discussed with you prior to starting HBOT.
When changes are indicated, your opinions will be an important part
of the decision making process.
HBOT is beneficial for a multitude of other
reasons. White blood cells that kill bacteria become more efficient
in clearing infections, particularly bone infections like
osteomyelitis that otherwise would result in amputation. HBOT
reduces swelling and edema and is beneficial for cosmetic and
plastic surgery. New growth of blood vessels (neovascularization)
is increased and can prevent amputation of limbs from gangrene in
diabetics. Neovascularization also helps decrease stroke symptoms
caused by the loss of oxygen to the parts of the brain affected by
What Does HBOT Feel Like?
Hyperbaric oxygen treatments are typically
painless. You simply sit or lie comfortably and restfully in the
HBOT chamber while wearing an oxygen mask or hood. You can listen to
music, watch TV or nap if you wish. Some people may experience a
sensation of fullness in their ears during certain stages of the
treatment. This is similar to the sensation you might feel while
flying in an airplane or driving up or down a mountain, as the
eardrums respond to changes in pressure. As part of your
introduction to the treatment, you will be taught several easy
methods to avoid ear discomfort.
Are There Special Preparation For HBOT Treatments?
In order to begin your HBOT you will need:
- A complete history and physical exam.
- A heart and lung examination to rule out
heart problems or obstructive lung disease.
- An ear, nose and throat exam to be sure
your ears and sinuses can tolerate pressure changes.
- A complete review of medicines and
supplements to assure compatibility with hyperbaric treatment.
There are a few other preparations that may be necessary before
starting your HBOT program. These will be discussed with you, in
detail, by the hyperbaric medical team.
The Preventive Medicine Clinic of the Desert
located in Palm Springs has the first chamber in the Coachella
Valley available for elective use. For a schedule of free
educational lectures about Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy, please call
760-320-4292 to make an appointment for help.
return to the
Medical Information Home Page, click here.
return to the
PMC Therapeutic Options Page, click here.
Download a .PDF Version
of this document, click here.
If you do not have a
.PDF Reader, Click Here to Download Adobe Reader Free of Charge.